I grew up listening to Willie Nelson’s Greatest Hits on repeat, but since then, and maybe as a result of overexposure, I haven’t really listened to much contemporary country music. Consequently, when I got the call from HGTV asking me to host the HGTV Very Brady Lodge in Nashville at the CMA Fest, I put on my Good Student Hat and started studying up. Brett and I listened to all country, all day, every day leading up to the festival. We’d quiz each other on popular artists and songs. I stocked up on my denim game, dragged my boots (purchased in Texas on a cross country road trip in college) out from the back of the closet, invited all of my friends to join me, started researching Nashville, and began making an itinerary in Excel. (What? Doesn’t everyone do that?)
When the day to fly out finally came, I proudly donned my new jean vest and boarded the plane. (Also, Brett donned my new jean vest and boarded the plane, but then I made him give it back.)
I arrived in Nashville a newly minted country fan. There was barely time to change into my old red boots before being whisked off to the weekend’s first event, a Friday night concert at the Nissan arena. The night’s line up was insane, and compared to L.A., the prices for beer and food were shockingly low. My jaw dropped when I ordered a chili dog and a drink. “That will be $6,” said the friendly vendor. “For the chili dog? What about the drink?” I asked. “$6 for both, sweetie pie,” the vendor replied. I walked away, feeling as if I’d stolen something. And also wishing that people in L.A. would start referring to each other as “sweetie pie.”
My friends, family, and I danced the night away, singing our hearts out to all the amazing artists, but I made sure to stick to my bedtime, knowing I had a long day ahead of me.
The next morning, after a rib-sticking breakfast of biscuits and grits and various meats, I headed to the HGTV Very Brady Lodge. Let me tell you, HGTV went ALL OUT for this event, constructing a barn from scratch in the middle of the city center. Just steps away from Bourbon Street, the lodge had a line-up of both emerging artists and chart-topping super-stars, all performing in the same, intimate setting on a barn-wood stage for a standing room-only crowd. On top of that, they’d gone all 70’s groovy with the décor.
Now, I don’t regularly rub elbows with famous musicians, but I can’t imagine any other group of people being more down to earth or welcoming. As Barry Williams (aka Greg Brady) and I introduced each act, we got to share with everyone details about our upcoming HGTV special, A VERY BRADY RENOVATION and then, well, the hard part of the day: we had to sit back and listen to all these amazing artist play some really great music.
Also, this may have been the CMA Fest, but if you know me, you know that any fest is also and always a FOOD FEST. When in Nashville, I say, GIVE ME ALL THE GRITS!!
I have to say, I had a lot of fun packing and dressing for this weekend. I call my look West Coast Goes Western. Here are some of my favorite pieces from the country festival extravaganza:
If two days of eating all the southern food, wearing all the boots and denim, and hosting at the HGTV Lodge wasn’t enough to make for the trip of a lifetime, then my next stop for sure tipped it over the edge: I met up with a bunch of Discovery peeps to work on a Habitat for Humanity build just a few towns over. What a special, memorable way to wrap up a weekend that I’ll always remember.
Well, thank you for following along on another one of my adventures! And, as they say in the south, Peace, Love, and Gritts, Y’all!